DayZ is widely considered one of the best PC mods of all time. Who wouldn't want to be dropped off into a gigantic post-apocalyptic zombie world where death is permanent? Over one million players are having a blast just trying to survive in the game.
While DayZ is amazingly tense and fun, the Arma 2 mod can also be a headache to install. Which version of Arma 2 should you get? Retail? Steam? What patches should you download? Maximum PC's DayZ installation guide will answer all of the questions and address some of the more common issues plaguing the mod.
Buy A Copy of Arma II: Combined Operations
If you own the base version of Arma II, you’ll need to purchase a copy of Operation Arrowhead. If you’re starting from scratch however, we recommend picking up Arma II: Combined Operations. This includes both the base game, and the expansion which are required for the DayZ mod to work.
Update: It was pointed out to us by a reader that Arma II Free & Operation Arrowhead can be combined into a working platform for DayZ. While this is technically true, the mod creators note specifically that they “do not recommend it”. Going this route puts you at risk of running into issues with patches both now, and in the future.
Run Arma 2, and Arma 2: Combined Operations Before Modding
This is by far the most commonly skipped step, and is responsible for a myriad of problems, most of which occur while launching. If you didn’t take this advice and are having issues, check the troubleshooting section below for tips. Launching Arma II and Arma II Combined Operations for the first time updates your system’s registry, and also helps rule out problems with your base Arma II install. You would be surprised how many people we saw on DayZ forums trying to troubleshoot the mod, when in fact the problem was with the Arma II installation.
**IMPORTANT NOTE FOR STEAM USERS**
If you purchased the Steam version of Arma II: Combined Operations, many users have reported issues with “Bad CD Key” when launching the game. In order to resolve the issue, simply close Steam, right click the icon on your start menu or desktop, and select Run As Administrator.
Install DayZ The Easy Way: Use the DayZ Commander
Installing DayZ used to involve several downloads, manually locating and copying over the mod files, and even adding command lines to the Arma II launcher. For users without a basic understanding of file systems, this is usually where the adventure ends. Luckily, DayZ Commander has taken most of the guess work and frustration out of the process.
This 2.4 MB download is not only a top notch server browser, but it also allows you to automate the DayZ installation process as well. Playing DayZ involves not only having the most recent version of the mod files, but also keeping the base Arma II game up to date. This app not only checks to make sure you are current on both fronts, but even allows you to install older versions should you decide you don’t like changes made in the most recent update. It’s also quite handy to have the ability to easily downgrade for troubleshooting purposes. Running previous versions will severely limit your server choices, but if you hate a new feature, chances are you’ll probably find at least a few likeminded folks to roam with who also aren’t fans of the change.
Here is the step-by-step process:
1.) Download the most recent version of DayZ Commander, double click to install, then launch when ready.
2.) Set your filters so only compatible servers show on the list. We recommend ticking off the boxes for: hide unresponsive, hide empty, hide full, DayZ only, hide locked, hide unofficial, hide wrong Arma2 version, and hide wrong DayZ version. Doing so will make sure that after we finish installing DayZ, you can double click any server shown on the right when you’re ready to play without issue.
3.) Click Install/Update located along the top tool bar.
4.) The slide in menu will let you know if Arma II is up to date, and if the most current version of DayZ is installed. The drop down menu will allow you to pick from previous versions of both, but keep in mind the server needs to be running the same version of both Arma II and DayZ for you to be able to join properly. We recommend using only the most current version of both if you want the greatest number of server options. At press time more than 70% of the servers were running the most current version.
Here is what the installation should look like after clicking Install.
Once the files are download it will decompress automatically.
Here is what you should see when all is said a done. The version numbers may change over time, but the green Reinstall button is an indication that DayZ commander has properly verified both requirements are up to date.
5.) The final step is to close and open DayZ Commander, and allow the server browser to refresh. You may want to initially start out on an empty server just to learn the ropes, but the categories along the top will allow you to sort by settings, time of day, number of players, and ping. From here, just double click your ideal server and prepare yourself for the zombie apocalypse.
Click page 2 to learn how to install DayZ the manual way.
Install DayZ the Hard Way: Use Nothing But Your Bare Hands
You really should use the DayZ Commander because it makes the process so drop-dead simple, but incase you can't get it working for whatever reason or just like doing it the old-fashioned way, here is a quick step-by-step rundown of how to install the mod manually.
Steam Version of Arma II: Combined Operations
1.) Install the latest Arma II beta patch. Going forward you’ll need to manually keep an eye out for new versions or expect to run into issues finding servers.
2.) Download the DayZ Mod files, and decompress the .zip file into your C:\Program Files (x86)\steamapps\common\arma 2 operation arrowhead\@DayZ\Addons . If you aren’t using the default directory for Steam you will need to modify the path accordingly.
3.) Open your Steam games list, Right Click Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead, and select Properties.
4.) Under the General tab, click Set Launch Options, and paste the following string into the box without the quotes. “-mod=@dayz”
5.) Open File Explorer and navigate to “C:\Program Files (x86)\steamapps\common\arma 2 operation arrowhead\”. Find the file named _runA2CO.cmd, Right Click and select Open With then Notepad. Depending on your version of Windows, you might also see an Edit option when you Right Click the file. This works just as well.
6.) Click Edit along the top, followed by Find. Search for “:run” , and add “;@dayz” to the part of the line where you see “mod=%_ARMA2PATH%;EXPANSION;ca”. Remember to ignore the quotation marks above. Close and save the file.
7.) Double click runA2CO_beta.cmd to run DayZ. You’ll only need to use this approach the first time. From now on you can launch via Steam by double clicking on Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead. Make sure you see the DayZ icon in the upper right.
8.) Click Multiplayer, and find a server that matches your version number. The filter options are much weaker than those found in DayZ Commander, so you might need to hunt around a bit to find a compatible host.
Non Steam Versions of Arma II: Combined Operations
2.) Download the DayZ Mod files, and decompress the .zip file into your C:\Program Files (x86)\steamapps\common\arma 2 operation arrowhead\@DayZ\Addons . If you aren’t using the default directory for Arma II you will need to modify the path accordingly.
3.) Open File Explorer and navigate C:\Program Files (x86)\Bohemia Interactive\ArmA 2 Operation Arrowhead. \”. Find the file named _runA2CO_beta.cmd , Right Click and select Open With then Notepad. Depending on your version of Windows, you might also see an Edit option when you Right Click the file. This works just as well.
4.) Click Edit along the top, followed by Find. Search for “:run” , and add “;@dayz” to the part of the line where you see “mod=%_ARMA2PATH%;EXPANSION;ca”. Remember to ignore the quotation marks above. Close and save the file.
5.) Right Click runA2CO_beta.cmd , and select Create Shortcut. Move and rename your new shortcut to whatever works best for you, and go ahead and launch the game.
Click the next page for the troubleshooting section
Having non-Zombie related problems? Given that this free mod is still highly experimental, its possible you could run into countless issues even if you follow our step-by-step guide faithfully. Here is an assortment of common fixes to cover off the dozens of errors we’ve read about online.
- Under the games tab Right Click the Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead entry, then select Properties. Navigate using the top tabs to “Verify Integrity of Game Cache” and let steam check the integrity of the game files. In general this is a great way to fix problems with just about any game you own on steam, so keep this tip handy if you run into problems with other titles.
- Find the Steam icon on your system tray and select Exit. Next find the launch icon on your Start Menu, Right Click, then select Run as Administrator. This fix has been known solve the pesky CD Key error that seems to be plaguing countless frustrated DayZ players, along with a myriad of other pop-up warnings.
- Make sure you are launching Arma 2: Combined Operations, and not Arma II: Operation Arrowhead.
Both Steam & Retail Versions
“'You cannot play/edit this mission, it is dependent on downloadable content that has been deleted.dayz_code, dayz_weapons, dayz_equip”.
99% of the time it’s because you missed one of the steps we listed above. Go give it another try, I’ll hold off the zombies until you get here.
“Waiting for Server Response” or “Waiting for Character To Create”.
Most of the time this means the servers are overloaded, however from time to time the BattlEye anti-cheat engine is the source of your woes. Download the latest version and reinstall. Keep in mind it also takes much longer to join servers with larger populations, so move to a smaller server if this continues to be an issue. Server administrators also need to regularly restart servers in order to help combat this issue, so it could be completely out of your control.
Looking For More Information on DayZ?
The DayZ Wiki is simply excellent, and will provide you with the answers to just about any question you might come up with on your journey. We included suggestions for the most common problems here, but it’s almost impossible to anticipate everything. Feel free to post issues you’ve seen in the comments below, or check out these great forums.